Many people will say that when they were told they had mesothelioma it hit them like a bolt of lightning, leaving them shocked and depressed. Although many of the patients experienced symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and fluid on the lungs at the time of their diagnosis, they assumed they had the flu, bronchitis or some other “simple” respiratory ailment. Jan Egerton, however, was practically relieved to learn she had mesothelioma. Even though she knew the disease was life-threatening, for her, knowing the source of her years of pain meant she could begin treatment.
Due to its similarity to other illnesses and the rarity of the disease, diagnosing mesothelioma is difficult. But Egerton endured seven years of excruciating pain, missed diagnosis, fear that she was losing her mind, and skepticism from doctors before finally finding one willing to work with her to identify the source of all her symptoms.
Egerton first began having pain in her back in 1998, and was finally diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in August 2004. At that time, she was told she had just one year to live. Eight years later, Jan is a mesothelioma survivor.
Since her diagnosis, Jan said, she has been “on a mission to live as long as possible and, if I can buy more years, then I will.” Although Egerton has survived many years beyond her doctor’s prognosis, the road she has traveled has been extremely difficult. As a result, she is working hard to raise awareness of the “nasty cancer,” and to urge researchers to continue to focus on finding a cure and new treatments for the cancer. She is also reaching out to other mesothelioma patients and their families and is building a community of support among those dealing with the disease.
Egerton, who is now 52-years-old, lives in the UK with her husband and two dogs. She has carefully chronicled her journey and hopes that through her blog, “Mesothelioma – Jan’s Journey,” others facing a similar battle will know what to expect and will have someone to turn to for support.
Jan has had virtually every treatment option available to mesothelioma patients, and she has been completely open and honest through her blog in explaining the procedures and how her body has reacted to them. Beginning with her first surgery in ’04, Jan has also had VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery), radiotherapy, chemotherapy (two full cycles), cryoablation and more surgery. Jan is now in the midst of her third round of chemotherapy.
Jan has seen too many of her friends succumb to the cancer, and her frustration continues to grow that there is no cure. And her ongoing treatments are a testament to the fact there is no effective method for stopping the recurrence of mesothelioma. “I hope and pray that something will be found to stop the dividing of these unnatural cells soon and this will then put an end to the many deaths we have through mesothelioma,” Egerton wrote in one recent blog entry.
Jan wants others to know that even though the battle against mesothelioma is difficult, others have been through it before and leaning on them is important for survival. “Don’t be alone in this battle … We are all here to help each other.”
Jan Egerton will periodically be offering her insight and information about mesothelioma treatments as well as information about the impact the disease has on people’s lives.